Lithuania is an active member of the European Union (since 1 May 2004) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (since 29 March 2004). Lithuania is the only Baltic country with nearly eight hundred years of statehood tradition, while its name was first mentioned one thousand years ago, in 1009. Wedged at the dividing line of Western and Eastern civilizations, Lithuania battled dramatically for its independence and survival. Once in the Middle Ages (15th century), Lithuania was the largest state in the entire Europe, where crafts and overseas trade prospered.
In 1579, Vilnius University, an important scientific and education centre of the European scale, was opened. In 16th century, Lithuania adopted its First, Second and Third Statutes. Not only the Statutes were the backbone of the legislative system of the country, they had a major impact on legislation of other European states of the time. Despite losing its independence, Lithuania managed to retain its Third Statute in effect for as many as 250 years, which was instrumental in preservation of national and civic self-awareness of the public. The Constitution of Lithuania-Poland together with the French Constitution, both adopted in 1791, were the first constitutions in Europe (Lithuanian-Polish constitution was adopted few months earlier).
Transitional, between maritime and continental; wet, moderate winters and summers
Lowland, many scattered small lakes, fertile soil. The fertile central plains are separated by hilly uplands that are ancient glacial deposits.
Aukstojas Hill 294.84 m (967.322 ft), about 24 km southeast of Vilnius lies just off the main highway to Minsk and within sight of the Belarus border. 30% forest